PRAIRIE GROVE -- Prairie Grove came the closest among 4A-1 teams to winning a playoff game Friday, but fell one point short in a season-ending, 28-27 loss at Hamburg (7-4) Friday.
Storming back from an early 14-0 deficit, Prairie Grove (4-7) took the game down to the wire. The Tigers forced a three-and-out to start the second half then drove deep into Lion territory before Jared Harger was stopped a yard short on fourth-and-goal.
Two plays later, Caden Redfern intercepted a Hamburg pass and stepped into the end zone for a defensive touchdown. Paytin Higgins kicked the point-after tying the contest at 21 points apiece with 4:56 to go in the third quarter.
Hamburg regained the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter with Lion quarterback Nick Bridges connecting with Brett Rice on a 12-yard touchdown pass. Jesus Aguilar kicked the PAT and Hamburg moved back in front, 28-21.
Prairie Grove rallied despite a misplay on fielding the ball during the kickoff return. Keiandre Hobbs covered for his teammate and scooped up the ball at the five making a decent return out to the 25. Harger had a big run to overcome second-and-15 and Cordelle Whetsell ran a wingback reverse 14 yards to convert second-and-12.
On second-and-8 from the Lion 29, Prairie Grove executed a screen pass from Knox Laird to Hobbs. Hamburg's defensive tackle recognized the play, broke off his rush and lunged at Hobbs as he made the catch. Hobbs stumbled forward but kept his feet and raced untouched by any other defender into the end zone for a touchdown. The extra-point kick failed leaving the Tigers down by a point, 28-27, with 7:11 in the fourth.
Prairie Grove got the ball back at its own 11 with less than two minutes to play. The Tigers mounted a desperation drive and advanced the ball out to their 39 before an interception sealed the game for Hamburg.
The Tigers dug themselves an early hole by fumbling away their first possession setting up Hamburg with a short field. The Lions took a 7-0 lead on Rice's first 12-yard touchdown pass to Bridges. Prairie Grove's next series concluded with a punt and Hamburg drove 86 yards for another touchdown with Gavin Harrod rushing for a 5-yard score. Aguilar kicked both extra-points giving Hamburg a 14-0 lead as the first quarter ended.
The Tiger defense provided the offense with good field position by holding Hamburg and forcing a punt in the second quarter. Prairie Grove started at midfield with Higgins playing quarterback. The sophomore completed an 8-yard pass to Whetsell for a first down at the Lions' 36, but the Tigers weren't able to run effectively and found themselves facing fourth-and-8.
Higgins rolled to his left and found pressure. He ducked out of a potential sack, pivoted, stayed on his feet and came back to his right and spotted Redfern open for a 16-yard gain and a huge first down.
Hobbs polished off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run to get Prairie Grove on the scoreboard. Higgins, who was shaken up while making the throw for a first down, came back on the field and kicked the PAT cutting Hamburg's lead in half, at 14-7, with 5:10 remaining in the first half.
Hamburg answered by driving 58 yards for a touchdown on Nick McNeil's 19-yard run with 1:55 remaining in the second quarter.
Trailing 21-7 Prairie Grove refused to go away. Hobbs exploded out to the 37 on the kickoff return and might have gone farther if he hadn't tripped making a cut. He would make up for that later.
Prairie Grove moved the ball efficiently and quickly redeeming the time which was about to run out in the first half. Knox Laird passed to Cade Grant, but a penalty backed the Tigers up. On third and 25, Knox Laird hit Hobbs for 18 yards, then passed to Whetsell on fourth-and-8. Whetsell spun twice to elude tackles, picked up a key downfield block from Grant and willed his way into the end zone to complete a spectacular 37-yard touchdown reception.
Higgins booted the PAT and Prairie Grove took momentum into halftime although they were behind 21-14.
HAMBURG 28, PRAIRIE GROVE 27
Hamburg -- Nick Bridges 12-yard pass from Brett Rice (Jesus Aguilar kick).
Hamburg -- Gavin Harrod 5-yard run (Jesus Aguilar kick), 1:43.
Prairie Grove -- Keiandre Hobbs 18-yard run (Paytin Higgins kick), 5:10.
Hamburg -- Nick McNeil 19-yard run (Jesus Aguilar kick), 1:55.
Prairie Grove -- Cordelle Whetsell 37-yard pass from Knox Laird (Paytin Higgins kick), 0:15.
Prairie Grove -- Caden Redfern 1-yard interception return (Paytin Higgins kick), 4:56.
Hamburg -- Nick Bridges 12-yard pass from Brett Rice (Jesus Aguilar kick), 11:55.
Prairie Grove -- Keiandre Hobbs 29-yard pass from Knox Laird (Kick failed), 7:11.Sports on 11/20/2019
Print Headline: Tigers Come Up One Point Short